Sheffield view: 'Jess is happy to train alongside children'

Don Valley Stadium

Her down-to-earth charm and record-breaking sporting prowess meant 80,000 stood to cheer her on at the Olympic Stadium yesterday,. And while a smaller crowd of more like 80 gathered in her hometown of Sheffield, the volume of their support was equal testament to Jessica Ennis's place as one of Britain's favourite Olympians.

The crowd gathered around large screens at Don Valley Stadium to watch their local superstar heptathlete in a two-day festival to celebrate the athlete for whom no one seems to have a bad word.

Darrell Johnson, who owns a florist in Abbeydale close to where Ennis lives, was delighted at her early show of form in the hurdles.

"It couldn't have got off to a better start," he said. "She comes into the shop and she is so down to earth. We've got a big photograph of her in the window – all the shops around our way have," he said.

Kaye Pigott, manager of Ennis's local pub Millhouses, said it was not unknown for her to pop in for a drink, albeit a non-alcoholic one, and the community were all rooting for her. She said. "With football you have always got people in the pub cheering for different teams but this is bringing everyone together."

In the heyday of British athletics in the early 1990s Don Valley, built on the site of derelict steelworks, routinely filled its 25,000 seats. Now top events bring in 18,000. There are high hopes that the Olympics can help turn this around and that a local success story may be just the trick.

Steve Brailey, the chief executive of Sheffield International Venues, said Ennis was an inspiration who had remained loyal to her roots. "One of the best things about her is that she is happy to train alongside the children or the community athletes. She always stops for a photo, mixes with everyone – she doesn't shut herself away," he said.

Last night former staff and pupils were gathering at her former school King Ecgbert's for a hot-air balloon ride over the city courtesy of the National Lottery, which has lavished £76m on sport in Sheffield since 1994.

Former English teacher Ian Rouse recalled Ennis as an able and committed student who went on to study psychology at Sheffield University. "It is a bit strange to see her competing in the Olympics but I bumped into her in the supermarket the other day and she was completely normal," he said.

"I was never aware of how much training she was doing. She was absolutely smashing – bright, enthusiastic, hardworking, a great kid to teach."

News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
Ministry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Richard Dawkins is known for his outspoken views
people
Life and Style
L’Auberge du pont de Collonges (AFP)
food + drinkFury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Arts and Entertainment
Bourne's New Adventures dance company worked with 27 young Londoners to devise a curtain-raiser staged before New Adventures' performance of Edward Scissorhands
theatreStar choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links